As part of the national effort to improve water quality, Section 208 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 provides regional planning agencies with the opportunity and funds to conduct areawide water quality management studies. The Triangle J Council of Governments (Triangle J) was the first regional planning agency to receive funds to conduct such a study. Triangle J's 208 work plan focuses on the interrelationships of water quality, land use, and environmental resources with the generation and evaluation of alternatives for solving point and non-point source water quality problems.

Triangle J utilized LANDSAT imagery to provide an essential data base for major portions of the 208 inventory of existing resources, as well as for input data in modeling the region's water quality and future development patterns.

The inventory of the region's resources was obtained for the 1,750 square mile study area through the computer processing of LANDSAT computer compatible tapes. Ten land cover categories were interpreted at a detail of 0.44 hectares (1.1 acres) and included three developed categories, four forest types, agricultural-managed lands, bare soil, and water. The resulting products included color-coded overlays for each category at a ratio scale of 1:96,000 (1" = 8000'), color composite map of all categories at the same scale, and a computer tape containing land cover data for each of 54 USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles by 50 meter grid cells.

The completed inventory was accomplished in less than three months at a cost of approximately $4.00 per square mile.

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